Archive for January 15th, 2021

January 15, 2021

The Tour Solidor at Saint Malo!

Again reviewing old posts to update/revise text/links , I have come across many sights not really mentioned in those posts or briefly. They deserve more , so therefore, here is my take on the Tour Solidor or tower in Saint Malo! This is in Ille et Vilaine dept 35 of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France!

The Tour Solidor (tower) is located at the mouth of the Rance, in the district of Saint-Servan and was built in 1382 by Duke Jean IV of Brittany in order to control the city of Saint-Malo. At a time when the city of Saint-Malo was rebellious to his authority. In particular, taxes should be levied on the goods transported. Its name is derived from steir and dor which in Breton means “door of the river”.

The Solidor tower was built on an already fortified site, the Tour d’Oreigle, also called Tour Aiquin and which included a small châtelet, transformed into a guardhouse of the new ensemble and a fortified enclosure, itself built on Gallo fortifications. Roman dating from the 4C which defended the ancient port of the city of Alet and of which vestiges remain in the current entrance bastion. It is possible to spot at low tide, the remains of a stone causeway which led to the Gallo-Roman port, the sea level being 8 meters lower than today.  This tower is the combination of three circular towers connected to each other by small curtains, the whole forming a triangle whose width is about 14 meters and the length about 20 meters. The base of the west tower at about 9 meters in diameter is reinforced by three massive buttresses. About 22 meters high , the tower consists of four floored levels, served by a spiral staircase of 104 steps. Its top has a beautiful belt of machicolations.

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In 1588, the local folks or Malouins seized the tower on behalf of the Duke of Mercœur, leader of the League of Brittany. It was only guarded by five or six men. A captain was installed there in 1590 with three soldiers, a maid and two watch dogs. The soldiers occupied it for a long time in order to watch the estuary in order to block trade between Saint-Malo and Dinan.  In 1636, Louis XIII ordered repairs to be made there. In 1694, the guard of the tower was entrusted to the inhabitants of Saint-Servan. In 1756, the drawbridge at the entrance was replaced by a stone bridge. The history and evolution of military technologies having rendered its initial use obsolete, the tower was transformed into a prison during the French revolution and then as a warehouse under the Empire. Priests, nuns and soldiers were locked up there. Graffiti can still be seen on the interior doors which closed the cells. In 1886, the Ministry of the Navy ceded it to the administration of Historical Monuments. The current appearance of the tower is a little different from the one it had at the beginning of the 20C, in fact only the tower remains as a building. and the guardhouse.

A cross resides at the foot of the Solidor tower. It was erected in 1985 on the rock where Jacques Cartier cast off for Canada in 1534.

The Saint Malo tourist office on the tour Solidor in French: https://www.st-malo.com/tourisme/art-culture/tour-solidor/

Since 1970 it has housed a Cape Horners museum which brings together the collections of the Saint-Malo museum on long-distance navigation and Cape Horners (maps, models, navigation instruments …) A wooden weather vane in the shape of an albatross was donated by the Chilean section of the Amicale internationale des Cap-Horniers in 2003. The collections of objects and on-board instruments belonging to the sailors, the nautical charts from the end of the 19C to the beginning of the 20C will be exhibited at the Maritime History Museum of Saint-Malo (Opening scheduled for early April 2022). You will therefore be able to relive the history of sailors around the world by passing through Cape Horn.

The Amicale Internationale des Cap-Horniers webpage: http://www.cap-horniers.fr/CHLC/Welcome.html

The musée d’histoire maritime of Saint Malo from the city how it will look like: https://www.ville-saint-malo.fr/albums/le-musee-dhistoire-maritime-de-saint-malo/

From the Solidor tower , a passenger and vehicle ferry regularly crossed the Rance towards Dinard, before the Rance dam was put into service in 1967. The Rance tidal power plant draws its energy from the force of the river tide. It is located in the Rance estuary, between the towns of La Richardais and Saint-Malo, With an installed capacity of 240 MW, it remained the largest tidal power plant in the world for 45 years, from its commissioning in 1966 until August 4, 2011. The departmental road 168 passes over the dam and allows vehicles to link Dinard to Saint-Malo. The dam houses the Discovery museum of the Rance tidal power plant. The Saint-Malo museum has a pastel by Henri Arondel representing the Solidor tower, in its collections.

The Saint Malo tourist office on the Rance Dam in English:https://www.saint-malo-tourisme.co.uk/explore/on-and-in-the-water/the-river-rance

More from the electricity company of France, EDF in English: https://www.edf.fr/en/the-edf-group/industrial-provider/renewable-energies/marine-energy/tidal-power

There you go folks another dandy in my beautiful Bretagne and wonderful Saint Malo. Hope you enjoy as I did catching up with this marvel, the Tour Solidor.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

January 15, 2021

City Hall of Redon!!!

So, therefore, I have found a missing link that will post here a new post and pictures! I have come several times by Redon, and eventually visited the city with the family. One monument that caught my eyes, first passing by in the TGV train to Paris was the city/town hall of Redon. Let me tell you a bit about it ok.

redon

The town of Redon is a sub-prefecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine department 35  in the region of Bretagne. It is located north of the confluence of the Oust and the Vilaine rivers which runs along the city, 60 km from Rennes, 50 km from Vannes and 60 km from Nantes. The Nantes-Brest canal runs along the Oust river then crosses the center of the town.

Redon is located in the heart of the western waterways and close to the Atlantic ocean with, in particular, a sea and river port sheltered from winter storms. It is located at the crossroads of the TER train lines for Rennes, Quimper and Nantes. The train station of Redon, is equidistant from the stations of Rennes, Vannes and Nantes. Redon has, also, a TGV Atlantique stop. The trip lasts between 2h06 and 2h37.  And this is how I first came to know the city passing by on the TGV! Later, I visited by car coming on the D775 road off the N166. The city is crossed to the north by the D177 road. It connects Redon and Rennes in 40 minutes. Best for parking by the place de la République or  place aux Marrons.

redon

The neighboring towns are in 3 departments such as in Ille-et-Vilaine (35) Bains-sur-Oust; and Sainte Marie ; in the Morbihan (56) Saint-Perreux; Saint-Jean-la-Poterie; and Rieux; and in Loire-Atlantique (44)  Saint-Nicolas-de-Redon.

The City/town Hall was erected in 1905 on the site of the previous one. This original and beautiful building is in the Gothic Revival style. The city/town hall is located not far from the abbey and the Gothic tower. In front of it, you have a pleasant square crossed in above by the railroad tracks. It is located at 18, Place Saint-Sauveur.

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The historical variations of the Breton linguistic border show that the Breton language was spoken in Redon in the Middle Ages. The local language is from Gallo, which is part of the language group of Oïl.

A bit of history I like

The history of Redon begins in 832 with the foundation of the Abbey of Saint-Sauveur de Redon (see post), by Conwoïon  a Benedictine monk native of Comblessac, under the protection of Nominoë, king of Bretagne/Brittany, on a promontory called Roton ( later Redon). Some of the personalities by here were Saint Vincent Ferrier, a Spanish Dominican from Valencia who preached here in 1418. Duke François II received the King of France Louis XI in Redon in 1462. The States of Brittany met 5 times in Redon, in the 15C and 17C such as in 1446,  1460, 1461,1476 and 1612. Pope Nicolas V erected the city of Redon as a bishopric on June 10, 1449 at the request of Duke François I ; this bishopric included at that time 14 parishes, removed from those of Vannes, Rennes and Saint-Malo. The  election was revoked on December 20, 1440. The town of Redon was handed over to the French in 1487 by the lords united against Duke François II. Mercoeur entered Redon without resistance in 1589, then was driven out by the Royals and his governor Jean de Talhouët in 1595. Vineyards were cultivated in Redon from the 9C.

The Redon market takes place on Mondays from 8h30 to 13h from October to April; and 8h to 14h May to September.

The city of Redon on its history: https://www.redon.fr/tourisme/p23-histoire.html

The tourist office of South Brittany on Redon: https://www.visitsouthbrittany.com/redon-historic-town-and-port-0

The Ille et Vilaine dept 35 tourist office on Redon: https://www.bretagne35.com/partez-a-la-decouverte-de-lille-et-vilaine/sites-remarquables/redon/

And there you go folks a nice off the beaten path town and monument. How often have you visited the city/town hall of a town you are visiting? Well here in my belle France they can be beautiful architecturally stunning buildings such as the case in Redon. Hope you have enjoy the post as I

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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January 15, 2021

Brussels , and the family!

I have been coming here since 1991, business and pleasure. This is Brussels, one of my favorite cities in Europe. This is an update, refresh link post from 2012 and of course plenty more in my blog on it too. Its a whimsical city, holding the main of the European Union. Let me tell you a bit more on Brussels, Belgium!

At first, the trips were short, but this time took the advantage of a vacation period between Christmas and New Years to go for a week with the family and go all over the city , Brussels, Bruxelles is magical. See my posts on the many sights below.

You have many nationalities here, and English is well spoken too. The trip started by car from our new home in the Morbihan breton dept 56. Before, I have gone from Versailles and then by train from Auray thru Brussels Midi and then rent a car there. This time went by car from  Brec’h, where we lived ,taking the expressway N165, then  N166 to Rennes, briefly on the N24 around Rennes to connect with the  A84, N175,A13 (autoroute de Normandie), and then cut across northern France on the A29, A28, back on A29, A16 briefly, A29 again (E44 European road system), then got on the A1 by TGV Peronne , (E19 European road system), A2 by known family territory of Cambrai, then get into Belgium in the A7,and get on the RO or Ring road of Brussels to exit No 13 or the road N8 at Chaussée de Ninove (where I always get in from France); past by suburbs of Dilbeek, Molenbeek, Anderlecht,  under the tunnel Leopold II to go our hotel past more north west suburbs of Saint Josse ten Noode and then Schaerbeek. All 9 hrs with stops and 818 kms later ,and 117€ gas and tolls. Yes Bretagne is a peninsula deep in when before from Versailles was just 4 hours with rest stop!

Then, we headed for the hotel parking at 10€ per day ,not bad at all.  We chose an inexpensive 2 stars hotel in a city area away from tourist center , it had some not soo good reviews on travel sites, but I am a contrarian when I read these so took in at the Hotel Bentley.  it was a basic accommodation with continental breakfast included about 67€ per night per room; the folks were very friendly, always available,and with great service at breakfast even if a bit limited in choices you had all the typical offerings in a continental style breakfast. My son left his bag full of electronics stuffs in the resto area and it was immediately brought up to his room, nice confidance to stay in places like this. All throughtout the service, and help was very nice and courteous, and see no reason why folks write bad reviews on properties like this, stand alone family business who try to help and make your stay a pleasant one. Maybe its the bad human habits of downplaying immigrant areas as the hotel is in little Turkey, plenty of nice folks even walking at night, and very helpful on bus tram routes. We will be back here. The webpage: http://www.hotel-bentley.com/

We went all over so much, taken bus, metro, and tram. The stop Botanique is the closest station to the hotel. We walk all over taking the metro line 1,5,and 6. We took the tramways 25 and 92, and the bus 66. We prefer the trams very nice clean efficient and see it all. The buses were crowded older and less clean, the metro was great but underground not to our liking. You can a Brussels journey planner to trace all your trip here: https://www.stib-mivb.be/tripplanner/?l=en

Folks sometimes get confused when I tell them to drive instead of public transport. It is better for a family to rent drive a car, and once in the city use the public transport, then go around all over in transport, much more expensive everytime you go past 2 persons. Try it. We purchase the magnetic card for 10 trips at a cost of 13€  ,good value from the usual 2,10 per person individual ticket on the trams. This having already a MOBIB Basic card which cost 5€. If purchase in the transport is 3€. The best part of the MOBIB Basic card is that you can lend to other persons to use so if a family you can reduce the cost further you know.

We like very much the City 2 shopping center, with FNAC, Armand Thiery, Carrefour market groceries; Australian ice cream parlor ,and a nice refuge from the rain ,all week, but we manage ok. Webpage in English: https://www.city2.be/

We ate at great places some old to come back to a Pizza Hut in Brussels brings a lot of memories from the time way back came as a young man with my late mother, our spot was here Bvd du Jardin Botanique 10. We tried the Australian ice cream parlor , the steakhouse Brussels Grill across the street, call the Manhattan center,  the Casa Nostra pizzeria was good, the wonderful all time favorite , real Belgian ,always a stop at Chez Patrick, an all time favorite here. We had our chocolates at a classic galerie de la reine at St Hubert, Corné Port Royal, the very best Belgian pralines or chocolates! We love it!!

We visit many stores old and new, and walk by the many wonderful streets and jardin botanique or botanical garden, seeing and reshape many monuments along the way from the great statue to Gen Montgomery of WWII fame by the metro tram stop of same name just pass the Parc du Cinquantanaire where we saw the wonderful Autoworld museum of vintage auto and bikes, a must see even if not into cars. We went over the Royal Armed Forces museum but here we got into a bit of laberinth, the museum close at noon for one hour, so if you are inside, you stay in the aviation hall with a restaurant very nicely place ho ho ho , but we wanted to continue seeing, no way, all aisles were close! so after having seen most (just pavillion 12 was left), we decided not to wait and leave, well no signs for sortie or exit available, we asked ,and it was thru the WC sign tunnel or rest rooms lol!!! weird way to leave a museum lol!!! Other than that, the museum is a marvelous place, not to be missed, of WWI and WWII to the Cold War tanks, planes, weapons,  uniforms the whole works!

We went over to mini Europe, so nice to see the wonders of Europe monuments all in minituare sizes, just glorious, and very nicely done, a must to visit. Nearby by is the symbol of Brussels, the Atomium globe , its a great architectural achievement and very nicely done for at least once seen, its 108 meters high with many levels open and some not. The panorama view from 7 is the main point of going up! You come here and dont drink beer lol!!! wonderful, we do lol!! and do visit the museum of beers at the Grand Place, small but a good introduction to beers Belges!  In all another wonderful visit to Brussels/Bruxelles, and a passing by the European commission of course, and the Royal Palace, and Santa Claus motorcycles, and the Cathedral Ste Catherine, the site of this year Plaisir d’Hiver or a Christmas market place full of hamlets, slaloms, dragon tunnels, and a big wheel we took awesome!!! a Great ambiance. the Church of Benigue, nearby is nice, the Royal Theater, parc du Bruxelles, and the wonderful chic Louise neighborhood.  Not to missed the Mannequin pis!!

A must to see when in Europe, one of its great Capital cities, Bruxelles, Brussels, we will be back. And we did, see the sights above on individual posts in my blog with pictures.

And of course, told the way up above, so now giving you the way down or home. I took the old route back, as if we were in Versailles, we left out very easy just as to go in, really is easy to drive on, you only need experience driving in cities and it will be fine. We left on the blvd du jardin botanique to blvd Adolphe Max left continuing on blvd Anspach then right on Rue Antoine Dansaert, then left on blvd de Nieuport to Chaussée de Ninove direction Mons to get on the RO ring road direction Mons. There you go on the Belgian A7 or E19 roads towards Paris, once in France you get on the A2 dir Valenciennes, then at the end it takes you into the A1 direction Paris, you go all the way to near CDG Roissy airport you see the panels Cergy Pontoise on the N104 (this is the la Francilienne road that goes on the outer limits of Paris) , continue direction Cergy Pontoise, pass the bridge of the A15 direction Versailles (yes my old town lol!) then go direction St Germain en Laye on the N184 same road, and just pass the Centaure train station at St Germain en Laye turn right on the A13 towards Poissy/Orgeval, at this round about you take the A13 direction Rouen,and up you go towards Caen then Rennes on the A84, N175, N24, N166,and N165 back to  Brec’h which is finally the road D768... This route took 880 kms, and 10 hrs with stops, with 91€ gas and tolls. So, longer but cheaper on gas/tolls.

The  tourist office of Brusselshttps://visit.brussels/en

The city of Brussels : https://www.bruxelles.be/

I must say that in later years I took the time to go on secondary /national roads without any tolls as these I consider extra taxes to pay! Its up to you! Hope you enjoy the ride! And remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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